After over three decades of ownership, Gail Miller and the Miller family are selling a majority interest in the Utah Jazz to Ryan Smith, the founder of Utah-based cloud computing company Qualtrics.
Miller, who has been the full owner of the Jazz since her billionaire businessman husband Larry H. Miller died in 2009, released a statement through NBA.com about the family’s decision to sell the team.
“I have known Ryan for several years and admire the values by which he and his wife Ashley live their lives. They have such love for and a connection to Utah and this team. Because of our friendship and several high-level conversations over the years, Ryan recently approached our organization to inquire about the possibility of purchasing the Utah Jazz and some of our other sports and entertainment properties. After much soul searching, lengthy discussions and extensive evaluations of our long-term goals, my family and I decided this was the right time to pass our responsibility and cherished stewardship of 35 years to Ryan and Ashley, who share our values and are committed to keeping the team in Utah. We have every confidence they will continue the work we have undertaken and move the team to the next level. Our family remains invested in the success of the Utah Jazz and these businesses, and we will retain a minority interest.”
While the terms of the sale have not been officially disclosed, Sportico reported that Smith is buying the team for $1.66 billion. That’s quite a profit, as the Millers spent $9.5 million to buy a 50% stake in the Jazz in 1985, and purchased the rest of the team a year later for just under $20 million.
Smith, a Utah native and longtime corporate partner of the Jazz, said in a statement that he and his wife are excited to take over stewardship of a Utah institution.
“The Miller family has had an unbelievable impact on countless people through the Utah Jazz and the other organizations they run. We all owe a great debt to the Miller family for the amazing stewardship they have had over this asset for the past 35 years. My wife and I are absolutely humbled and excited about the opportunity to take the team forward far into the future – especially with the greatest fans in the NBA. The Utah Jazz, the state of Utah, and its capital city are the beneficiaries of the Millers’ tremendous love, generosity and investment. We look forward to building upon their lifelong work.”
Miller confident Jazz will stay in Utah
In 2017, the Miller family transferred ownership of the Jazz to a trust that was intended to keep the team in Utah for decades to come. In her statement, Miller expressed confidence that Smith would continue to keep the Jazz in Utah.
“Much attention has been given in recent years to my putting the team in a legacy trust. This was done in connection with my estate plan and with the objective of assuring our loyal Jazz fans that the team would remain in Utah. I am fully persuaded that with this sale, the objectives of the trust will be honored, and the new owners have made the same commitment to keep the team in Utah. This transaction will unlock opportunities that will allow us to continue our stewardship in ways not possible until now. Our mission is and will continue to be to Enrich Lives.”
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